Heloise and Abelard: A bdsm Love Story

The story of Héloïse and Abélard is one of the most famous love stories of Western culture.

They met when he became her tutor, and fell in love. Later, they married. When her family found out about the marriage, they attacked and castrated Abélard and shoved Héloïse into a convent. 

Heloise, after – ooh, that looks like it was the theology lesson

But it’s seldom admitted that this is a bdsm love story. When he appointed Abélard as his daughter’s tutor, her father told Abelard to punish Heloïse physically, in any way he wanted, if he was dissatisfied with her work. If I ever write a parenting manual, I’ll advise against that. 

It seems to have been the spankings and small whippings, with her clothing partly removed, that sparked the sexual relationship. Abélard hints as much in his first letter, written after the lovers were separated.

There’s no doubt at all that Heloïse enjoyed her sexual submission to Abélard. When she writes to him after his castration she’s clearly disappointed that he won’t return to his dominant role with her. 

The lovers are discovered

Two things always strike me when I read the letters of Abélard and Heloïse to each other, aside from the wretched sadness of the story, are:

(1) the utterly despicable role played by the Catholic Church throughout the whole disaster; and

(2) that Heloïse is worth a dozen of Peter Abélard. He’s a famous male intellectual and she isn’t because patriarchy, but she seems … smarter and a lot more emotionally and intellectually honest. 

Perhaps I’m biassed towards submissives, but I actually think it’s her directness and honesty that makes her still seem radiant and wonderful, while he (forgivably: he’s in a terrible situation, but still…) comes across as a pompous egotist. 

3 thoughts on “Heloise and Abelard: A bdsm Love Story

  1. I have not heard this story. Excellent post, Jaime. I enjoyed reading and your illustrations. I have to confess, that upon viewing the top photo I am sure I just had the same reaction that Abélard must have had that led to the unfortunate situation.

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